Adrift

Adrift

Robin Anna Smith

Sunday, the day we go to visit Grandma—the day I dread all week. I ask my mother if I can go to a friend’s house or stay home. As always, she rejects my plea, states that we are the only family who visits, that Grandma’s lonely and looks forward to seeing us.

Grandma lives in a tiny apartment in a building that looks like a run-down motel. The gravel parking lot matches the tone of her voice—rough and uneven. Her apartment is hot and stagnant. It has a signature scent: cigarette smoke is the top note, floating above the heart note of a neighbor’s meal cooking, and the base note of cockroaches.

At thirteen years old, I’ve never known Grandma to be happy. Her smiles look like lies, her cackle unconvincing. As someone affected by depression, I recognize it plainly. Thin and frail, I rarely see her stand. Sunk into a nicotine-stained couch, she chain-smokes and sucks oxygen from a green tank that I’ve never seen her without. Her commitment to smoking speaks to her infidelity to life, to us.

When she’s taken to the hospital, family comes from all over. Outside the ICU, we sit and watch the clock as my relatives argue and assign blame.

After she passes, we take her ashes to scatter in the Gulf of Mexico. My family cries for our loss while I sob with relief for her escape.

beach baptism . . .
a seagull swings
from a sunray

Robin Anna Smith

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